Clarence is back! He had to keep it quiet for several months, but is now back in full effect with more tales from the Richmond Juvenile Correctional Education system. Enjoy:
One of most frustrating aspects for those who work in corrections is the fact that inmates have to pee. This is frustrating because that pee has to go somewhere; a function made all the more exasperating because it is one of the few things the state cannot control. That is to say, the inmate always gets to choose where his piss is going to land, and if he opts for anywhere but the toilet, that's where its gonna go.
Case in point: light bulb changing day in the Max. Some poor bastard of a contractor has to come in and do this, and the fellas housed in the Max never respond well to outsiders. So there he is locked in a 15 by 15 room, a room whose walls contain nothing but thick ass metal doors. And each of those doors contains a window the size a shoe box, windows where this contractor will alternatingly see cocks, middle fingers, and, ever so rarely, the fecal fresco.
He will of course hear nothing but obscenities. He will admit to me later that all these threats being hurled by the locked down inmates will confuse him, because he is after all just there to help them out. For if he did follow their instructions to "bounce, motherfucker!", well then they'd just be sitting there in the dark. So when the inmate told him to leave or get pissed on, the contractor didn't think much of it, especially because of the big, thick metal doors separating him from them.
Well don't you know it wouldn't be but three minutes later while he was sitting on the floor unwrapping flourescent tubes that he felt his ass getting all wet though his workman's pants. 16 little streams of piss coming from under 16 metal doors had snaked their way like the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon and soaked his Dickies.
Now that is frustrating.
Kahloed Might Be a New Verb
This post is definitely a new addition to the canon of the best gruesome stories, and you know it is true and I am not lying, for real, because it happened to my sister's best friend at her old job in another state.
My sister used to work with her best friend at a large apartment complex in a city somewhere between Freezing Cold and Fucked Up, Ohio. Jess and I are cooling out at our parent's crib, getting ready to fight over the TV channel for old times' sake when she gets this phone call...
Apparently when her friend checked into work, the pool guy called her up and said, "Uh, you GOT to come see this mess at the pool." The friend replied "Look. I've seen it when people throw furniture in the pool and I've seen barf and beer cans all over that thing--just clean it up and let's open for business." To which the pool guy responded, "No, this is different and way way worse. Just get out here."
The pools of blood were big, for sure. Although they had been there under the pool fence long enough to begin clotting in large clumps like freshly mown wet grass, the puddles were deep and still wet and sticky on the surface. A patio chair had been pushed up to the edge of the fence, and on the other side, a large stone ashtray had been kicked over. Spilt sand from the ashtray absorbed a lot of the blood, leaving a lot more to puddle on the pavement. Bloody fingerprints were smeared all over the signage and fenceposts.
Here's two photos:
Once the cops got there, they started roping everything off with yellow Caution tape and documenting the scene with Polaroids. The weirdest thing was there were no trails of blood, or any evidence to indicate that the victims had done anything other than teleported away from the scene of the crime.
Several hours later, detectives contacted my sister's friend. They found someone at the hospital whose injuries fit the scene. Apparently a woman had been climbing the iron gate to the pool in a surge of hot drunken bravado. She had one foot on the patio chair, and the other foot on the large stone ashtray, groin purchased precariously over the spikes on the fence...when the ashtray tipped and she dropped, crotch-first onto the iron spikes, impaling herself.
Somehow she got out of there and into the hospital, having emergency surgery to replace the buckets of lost blood. Reproduction by natural means is no longer an option for this poor lady. We were talking to some lawyer friend over drinks last night, and wondering: what are the legal implications of this horrible accident? Like, can the woman sue the apartment complex? Can they sue her for trespassing? What responsibilities does each party have?
And remember readers: this is in America, where everybody sues everybody else for everything all day long. As a matter of fact, I have just filed a cease-and-desist order against my own sister to get her to stop watching the Gilmore Girls when there are Smallville reruns on...
The Greyhound From D.C. Detoured Over the Folds Of Flannery O'Connor's Brain
Chuck Palahniuk said in his reading at the National Press Club this spring that he does not actually write fiction so much as water down real life in a way to make it presentable to a mass audience. I don't know about the people Chuck meets, but the other passengers on the Greyhound bus I rode from D.C. to Norfolk this Tuesday should have to pay rent to Flannery O'Connor's brain.
My Lord, that ride was the most demented, fascinating, and socially excruciating situation I have felt in a long long time. Plunging deep into the fabulously fucked-up mass psyches of a southbound Greyhound ride was a urine-tinged breath of fresh air in contrast to the sort of yuppie neo-bourgeouis business casual iPod professional scene in NorthWest DC.
Everybody was hideous and hilarious. That's why the bus is so cheap: it costs $30 to get from D.C. to Norfolk, but it makes each mile you travel makes you more unattractive. I began the trip wearing a filthy straw cowboy hat, a dress shirt with armpits so played out they looked like discount Hypercolor and a shitty attitude. Here's a quick rundown of some of the more colorful passengers:
A developmentally disabled child and his apparently fully able sister, gleefully indulging themselves in a burping contest. These two deserve some sort of recognition for sheer endurance. It was like a relay marathon, with loud belches instead of jogging. I didn't know whether to give them blue ribbons or throat lozenges.
Several apparent junkies who nodded off for the entire trip. While I could only see actual needle evidence on the arms of the man who was using my shoulder as a pillow, all three had a particular sort of facial creasing that more seasoned smacksmiths pick up after a while. Look carefully at the wrinkles around Keith Richards' or Iggy Pop's mouth and you'll know exactly what I am talking about.
A great big heavy brother in a maroon velvet sweatsuit who talked to me a bit too
much about world travel. At first I was afraid he was going to wake my seatmate. I asked the traveler if he had ever been to Australia and he said he had. I asked "what part" and he said, "I been to Sindy one time..."
Two boisterous teenaged siblings who noisily and aggressively flirted with the girl sitting behind me the entire trip. One of them kept chanting the phrase "long tongue, dry throat," in this strangely catchy musical singsong.
A woman who kept talking about the time she caught a scallop that was the size of a dinner plate. For like, an hour. Seriously, I fell asleep on the bus for about an hour and woke up and she was still
going on about that scallop. Then she told the whole bus about the time that her husband caught a flounder whose head and tail lolled off opposite edges of a card table.
A bootleg DVD and CD salesman who got on the bus in Hampton and walked up and down the aisles hawking his wares out of a pillowcase. He had a copy of Four Brothers that was going like absolute hotcakes.
Some guys smoking pot in the lobby of the Norfolk bus station.
The bus made it about half an hour south of Richmond, then broke down. We had to turn around and limp all the way back to the city, where we switched buses and started the trip anew. Before we pulled out of the station, the driver felt the need to calm the rowdy, disgruntled and burping crowd by getting on the intercome and saying
"If any passenger feels that they have something they got to say, please make sure that it is intelligent because I am feeling like a school bus driver up here!"
Now I'm cooling it down here in the Dirty South, safe and irritable...
I Refer You Again to the Title Of this Blog
I was just riding my bike up 16th street (approximately midnight, 8/21/05) and stopped at a red light when I heard the BEST car stereo in the freaking world. The driver was listening to some very funky jazz and the flute solo was coming through clearer than White House crystal.
I turned my head to have a look, and saw this...and I am NOT lying, for REAL:
The driver of said car was listening to regular jazz music on his car stereo and using both of his hand to actually play the flute solo I was hearing. H was SMOKING that flute, turning that thing OUT and back to normal again in the funkiest fashion imaginable while steering with his knees. When the light turned green he zoomed off without missing a note on his flute...
I spent the week helping my man Andrew teach a claymation class to sixteen kids, aged 9 to 13. It was challenging, hectic, irritating, and the most rewarding thing I have done all year. Kids' minds are so psychedelic and innocently creepy, and just having those sixteen fertile mental faucets flying around the room all week was an occasionally frustrating and frequently fascinating experience.
has taught claymation to kids since about 1995, helping them develop stories, characters, and sound effects for short film shot and dubbed entirely in-camera. We started shooting this Monday morning by ten, and finished the final seven-minute short this afternoon by 2 p.m. Here's some stills taken on the set, intertwined with a synopsis of the film. Click here
for some of Morgan's other productions.
The cruise ship crashed for no real reason, dumping its four passengers out into a sea that looked like chalk on black construction paper. The Ghost King saw this through his crystal ball and sent my carefully handcrafted ghost ship made of tree bark out to rescue the drowning people. As it turns out, one of the now-rescued cruise ship passengers had stolen a treasure map from some pirates, who were hot on the trail. Once the passengers awakened on the island's shore, a giant talking turtle picked the smuggler's pockets with its mouth and found the map...
Before the cyclops mermaid and the square man with the green nose could help, the pirates abducted the weary travelers and took them to the heart of an underground cave on the island. Just as the pirates and the travelers were about to uncover what might have been the treasure or just an everyday dragon egg, the dragon returned and beat everyone up. The cowboy traveler and the others escaped from the cave, to the swell of music sung by children and the final credits.
Just Because She's Crazy Doesn't Mean She's Entirely Wrong
I posted an interview with Concepcion Picciotto
in the DCist
today. She has been camping outsode of the White House since 1981 in a peace vigil to also fight presidential corruption. Here is a photo:
She is completely crazy, but no dummy. Talking to her made me wonder: what would you do if you had limited means, had no idea about the internet, and everyone around you had failed you? What if you believed in something or knew some truth so horrifying and real that everyone around you wanted to shut you up? What if it wasn't your fault people were driven from you and your message was so appalling? Eventually, you'd be down there in Lafayette park with a sign and a mission, too.
The protestors down there are desperate and furious, with some incredible stories to tell. You don't have to believe them, but they are speaking from their own reality, and it can be pretty powerful
I was also driven to floss like all hell after talking to Conchita. While she has left the campsite to eliminate and perform basic human functions since 1981, she has not made a trip to the dentist, apparently. Her gingivitis is so bad that you can see her actual JAWBONE and the teeth growing out of it. She also wears what appears to be a motorcycle helmet with a wig pasted to it, and a kerchief over that.
However, I ain't no Bush fan, and neither is she...so we have that in common.
Mantis Eats Hummingbird
A lot of people come to me and say "what's up with your blog name?" I'll tell you what's up...I need the name for stuff like this, published in Bird Watcher's Digest
and referred to me by my friend Adam.
This ambitious mantis managed to spear and eat a freaking HUMMINGBIRD. Have a look:
From the article itself:As you can see from the photographs this hungry mantis captured and killed a hummingbird not much smaller than itself. The hummer measured 2 inches and the mantis was about the same! The mantis used its spiny left foreleg to impale the hummingbird through the chest while leaving his right leg free.
We surmised that the mantis ran the hummer through and dangled its full weight on its foreleg while he consumed the flesh of the hummingbird from the abdomen. After he had his fill, the mantis gave his foreleg several swift jerks and freed his leg.
Sometimes I imagine a world where insects are giant, but not too giant. Not like, towering six-legged Godzillas, but just the size of dogs. If praying mantises were even the size of dachsunds, humanity would be in serious trouble. Not to mention actual dachsunds...
Dragonfly Among Hippopotami
Blogs are the next news source and the scourge of the mainstream media for this reason: we are the hive mind of news. We are everywhere and nowhere, a fog of facts that cannot be struck down. We are equal parts relentless watchdogs and introverted navel-gazers, an occasionally relevant and powerful indie rock 'zine of the 21st century
Here's the next breaking bulletin to blow up the blogosphere: it is hot as a motherfucker in my apartment. I live in a ground-floor studio apartment in Washington, D.C., and the heat and humidity in here is like the interior of a Saint Bernard's mouth.
I went for a run just as the sun was dropping, and the air was positively sublime. Yes, it was hot and humid, but the scents and textures of the air itself were so beautiful. I don't know how it is in other cities, but jogging through parts of DC give one the barest hint of what it must be like to be a dog with its face out the car window.
Columbia Road is a riotous nasal cacaphony of old vomit, hot pizza, Pollo Sabroso (Peruvian spit-roasted chicken, a nearly sexual food experience itself), fragrant panhandlers and car exhaust. All of these things sound disgusting together, but real beauty is seldom pretty, and the high one gets from this rich tapestry gliding past the olfactory receptors is unreal.
After the hard-core smells of the main drag, turning right onto Adams Mill brings a gentle change, sort of a cleansing aperitif before the road ahead. It's more tree-lined and oxygen-rich, sort of a long aromatic color field before the Duke Ellington bridge.
Jogging over the Duke Ellington Bridge feels much the way a pirate's ghost must feel while haunting a densely populated reef. You can feel the steady thrumming of the pavement underfoot like an ambient backing rhythm of waves overhead that the phantom pirate must feel, and passing through massive whales of cool oxygenated air from the trees in Rock Creek Park below is simply incredible. Sometimes I can feel myself, soaked in sweat that amplifies the sensation, slipping between small and clashing warm and cool fronts colliding and thrashing invisibly across the surface of the bridge. Every time, I pray that I am there at the freak moment when the micro-front rub each other just right and cause a tiny storm three feet above the sidewalk.
Schools of young people move across the bridge from the Metro, oblivious to this curling, cooling oxygen phenomena. Some of the women are ready for an evening out, chattering to their friends and releasing gentle perfumed puffs as they clack along. Some of the men are walking briskly and talking urgently, verbally puffing their chests into tiny hand-held electronics. I feel like a dragonfly among hippopotami, or one of those tiny birds that flosses crocodile teeth with its beak. For a few moments, I am not 6'2" sweat-soaked and clumsy, but speedy, sleek, and hyper-perceptive.
Then I get back to my apartment, take a shower and sweat the shower away ten seconds later, sitting in front of my computer. I'm back to being big, human, and jobless, and the only way to reconnect short of getting back out there all over again is to wank into cyberspace like this...
A Bit of Underwater Ultra-Violence, Courtesy of My Favorite Mollusk
Octopi have been much maligned in the media. From the nasty little bugger in Ian Fleming's Octopussy
to the monstrous submarine-eating monsters of 50's moviedom, the elegant, brilliant, and shy mollusks have gotten the short end of the stick.
Maybe the dozen or so of you that still read this blog recall my earler effervescent post about the giant octopus feeding at the National Zoo...my video here
. (Quicktime required)
But just to turn all that monster-loving flower child talk around on its ear again, here is a video of a giant octopus RUTHLESSLY attacking sharks
...apparently because it likes to kill sharks. The video is in Real Player, which is a bit inconvenient to download, but I assure you, it's worth the trouble...
I Frequently Mistake Real Life for Stories
Last Friday marked my final day as a business banking researcher. The day was anticlimactic and pleasant, not at all the sort of coda to several months of numbing terror that one would expect. Movies, television, radio plays and even thousands of years of campfire storytelling have led human beings to think that life works like stories: every crisis has its climax and fitting denoument.
When people fuss about getting closure, what they are really doing is admitting to all in earshot that they have confused stories for real life. In stories, we have closure. In real life, shit just happens until it stops, and some other shit comes along and takes its place.
Most of my favorite co-workers treated me to a much-needed margarita and a very thoughtful surprise gift and card. If life were stories and the beverages we drink were proportional to the stress they are meant to relieve, I would still be in the hospital and young-looking vampires would have to show ID before they could suck my blood.
Unlike every single other workplace card I have ever seen, this card was filled with thoughtful parting words, and really touched me. I'm going to commemorate it by adding it to my desk, allowing it to surf the meaningful flotsam I keep in the biggest drawer. One day down the track this card will surface and I'll open it up and be touched all over again...